How to Boil an Egg

Food, Hometown Cooking
on June 30, 2012

Boiled eggs are a simple yet nutritious food to make. Even a novice cook can prepare a boiled egg in less than 25 minutes. Eggs, whether soft or hard boiled, are a nutritionally rich food. One large egg has less than 72 calories and more than 6 grams of protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database.

When making a boiled egg, five easy tips can help to achieve the perfect egg.

  1. Choose eggs without cracks.
  2. When making boiled eggs, older eggs tend to peel easier. An older egg is one that has been in the refrigerator at least a week.
  3. Eggs like room to move when hard boiling; the right size pot is essential to keep cracks from forming.
  4. Adding a teaspoon of salt to the water may make peeling the eggshell easier.
  5. Eggs for soft or hard boiling should be brought to room temperature before placing in the cooking pot. A cold egg can crack when placed into boiling water.

How to hard boil an egg

Remove the eggs from the refrigerator and place in the bottom of a pot. Use a 4-quart pot for six to eight eggs and a 5-quart pot for nine to 12 eggs.

Fill the pot with warm water, covering the eggs with about 1 inch of water. Cover it with a tight-fitting lid and set on a burner lit to high heat.

When the water comes to a gentle boil, remove the pot’s lid and gently boil the eggs for two minutes. A gentle boil does not roll or toss the eggs within the pot.

After the two-minute boil, turn off the heat and remove the pot to a cool burner. Return the lid to the pot and let the eggs cook in the hot water for about 18 minutes.

Remove the cooked eggs from the hot water after the 18 minutes has passed, placing them into a bowl of cold water. This stops the eggs from continuing to cook. It also helps loosen the shell, making it easier to peel later.

How to soft boil an egg

To make six to eight soft boiled eggs, fill a 4-quart pot with water so the water level will cover the eggs and over by 1 inch. Do not put the eggs in the pot yet.

Bring the water to a boil over a burner set to high heat.

Many recipes and home cooks suggest poking a small hole in the larger end of each egg with a pin. This tiny hole is thought to allow for steam escape, which may prevent the egg from cracking when cooking. However, the American Egg Board does not recommend this procedure, stating, “Piercing egg shells before cooking is not recommended. If not sterile, the piercer or needle can introduce bacteria into the egg. Also, piercing creates hairline cracks in the shell, through which bacteria can enter after cooking.”

When the water reaches a gentle boil, lower the eggs into the pot and allow the water to return to a full boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the eggs, about four minutes for a large egg and six minutes for medium eggs. The longer the eggs are cooked, the firmer the yolk. If a runnier yolk is preferred, the cooking time may need to be shortened.

Remove the cooked eggs from the water and rinse in a cold water bath. Place the cooled egg into an eggcup and crack open to eat. Remember to place the small end of the egg into the bottom of the eggcup. Crack it open by tapping with a teaspoon or slice the top off with a butter knife.